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Fairfax Candidate Survey: Transportation

Candidates respond to questions related to transportation in the city.

Transportation is one of the key components of Smart Growth, and an on-going issue for the City of Fairfax.  We wanted to cover several components of transportation in the candidate survey, so we provided the candidates with four sub-questions.  You will notice that some candidates responded with an answer for each, and others provided a single answer that covered all the issues.  There was no right or wrong way to format the responses, so I am posting them exactly as we received them.

Candidates were provided the following statement and questions…

Fairfax City has significant advantages for bicycle and pedestrian travel. Most residential neighborhoods are within walking and bicycling distance of an array of stores and other commercial destinations. But relatively few trips are made by walking and bicycling in the city. Among the reasons are difficulty of crossing streets, the lack of pedestrian-friendly development and poor lighting in commercial areas such as Fairfax Boulevard. Innovative traffic calming devices, such as bulb-outs and lit crosswalks, have proven effective in many jurisdictions including the City of Fairfax.

Please address how you would work to make the city more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly, including the following questions:

●  How would you ensure that the city’s trail system is extended to connect with new developments, making it easier for residents to walk and bicycle to these new developments?

●  How can we improve public transportation service within Fairfax City and to surrounding destinations, such as the Vienna Metro Station and George Mason University?

●  What traffic calming devices would you recommend to make residential areas and commercial areas such as Fairfax Boulevard safer and more pleasant for walking and bicycling?

●  What measures would you like made available to local jurisdictions for improving road safety that require legislative action in Richmond?  For example, no hand-held devices of texting while driving.

Here are their responses:

Council Candidates:

Ellie Schmidt

The Transportation – Safe and Efficient chapter of the Comprehensive Development Plan addresses the City’s transportation network.  This includes modes of transportation, highways, streets and trails.  Consideration of the desire to create a pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly environment should be given when reviewing plans for new projects and developments.  I believe we should refer to the Plan for guidance.  We need to weigh safety, quality of life issues as well as financial factors.  It is important to work with our regional partners on transportation issues.

 

Steven Stombres

Making the city more bicycle and pedestrian friendly would help reduce traffic congestion in and around the city, improve safety, and increase the quality of life for city residents. 

We can continue to improve our trail system in the city by working with regional governmental bodies such as the Northern Virginia Regional Parks Authority to ensure that the money we provide is used within the city to the maximum extent possible.  We can also utilize citizen organizations like Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling to leverage their energy and expertise to help improve our trails.

In addition, we have long discussed a dedicated bike trail from George Mason University to the Vienna metro station.  While we have made some progress, we must continue to pursue this goal by improving signage, adding more road markings such as bike lanes or “sharrows,” and encouraging developers to include trail connections and bike racks in their design plans.

Finally we can work to make the city more pedestrian friendly by building wider, more usable sidewalks in new developments and utilize traffic calming devices and safety barriers in high traffic areas of concern such as North Street in the historic district.

 

Michael DeMarco

All residential development proposals should include connectivity solutions from the development to the nearby trails. All new retail development near existing neighborhoods should also include connectivity solutions from the development to the neighborhood. In both scenarios the solutions should include but not be limited to new paths for the residents to walk and bike.

Alternative transportation solutions are critical to easing congestion and enhancing our quality of life. We need to support regional solutions like extending metro along the I66 corridor and implementing bus rapid transit along Route 50 and other routes like Pickett/Blake. The latter would allow for promoting mixed use development in the Fair City area. We should also consider some innovative connector service from George Mason into the downtown. This would allow the students and guests at the Mason Inn to more easily shop and eat in downtown.

The best traffic calming device is mass transit. In addition, we need to ensure we have sidewalks on every major arterial and look for opportunities to implement diagonal crossing especially in downtown.  Investigate but target other innovative pedestrian solutions like bridges and mid-block cross walks. Look for appropriate dedicated bike lanes.

I would support legislation restricting the use of hand-held devices while driving. Until then, there are other things that can be done. My current employer implemented a safe driving program that restricts employees from using company hand-held devices while driving; the City could do the same with its employees to show its support of safe driving practices.

 

Daniel Drummond

●      How would you ensure that the city’s trail system is extended to connect with new developments, making it easier for residents to walk and bicycle to these new developments?

 Given the compactness of our City, we are fortunate that already the trail system is very much connected to our neighborhoods. That said we need to ensure that new development – and redevelopment – takes into account the trail system we have, incorporating it into any project to ensure that we continue to make the City to be pedestrian and bike-friendly.

●      How can we improve public transportation service within Fairfax City and to surrounding destinations, such as the Vienna Metro Station and George Mason University?

I ride Metro just about every day into my job in Washington, D.C. so I really understand the importance of needing to have a world-class transit system. Our CUE bus system is the envy of Northern Virginia. From our hybrid buses to the convenience it provides residents, it’s a system that I continue to support. Over the last several years we’ve added bike racks, kept fares as low as possible and have worked to find ways to make it more convenient. I will continue to support those efforts that encourage mass transit use.

●      What traffic calming devices would you recommend to make residential areas and commercial areas such as Fairfax Boulevard safer and more pleasant for walking and bicycling?

All around the City we need to encourage safer, slower driving, especially through neighborhoods. I certainly support neighborhood-specific solutions to calm traffic and prevent cut through traffic. And of course in both our neighborhoods and commercial areas, such as along Fairfax Boulevard, we need to ensure future development includes trails and pathways that are safe and convenient for bicyclists and pedestrians.

●      What measures would you like made available to local jurisdictions for improving road safety that require legislative action in Richmond?  For example, no hand-held devices of texting while driving.

Unlike Fairfax County, we have much more control over our roads, which I think is why they are typically in better shape. Of course safety is a primary concern and I would be supportive of those measures that help promote safer driving habits.

 

Jeffrey Greenfield

●      How would you ensure that the city’s trail system is extended to connect with new developments, making it easier for residents to walk and bicycle to these new developments?

The City of Fairfax currently has over 27 miles of trails throughout the City. The Council works very closely with City staff to ensure we are adding/extending trails with any new development project in an effort to expand accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists. 

●      How can we improve public transportation service within Fairfax City and to surrounding destinations, such as the Vienna Metro Station and George Mason University?

Decades ago, the city developed a ‘transportation service’ that is the envy of many of our sister jurisdictions that achieves exactly the subject of the question: the CUE bus service connects the Vienna Metro and George Mason University at almost any time a resident of the area would want transportation.  Not only are these two nodes connected, the CUE system connects other points throughout the city for almost one million riders per year.

●      What traffic calming devices would you recommend to make residential areas and commercial areas such as Fairfax Boulevard safer and more pleasant for walking and bicycling?

In a heavily trafficked area like the city of Fairfax, there will always be tension between the automobiles/bicycles/pedestrians.  The city recently overhauled the pedestrian access at Fairfax Circle, spending several hundred thousand dollars, to make walking and bicycle access safer. Further, the city recently installed ‘sharrows’ on GMU Blvd that links the university to the downtown area as a reminder to motorists to ‘share’ the road with bicyclists.  The city has a network of trails and bike paths that support alternative modes of transportation.  The city needs to spend additional resources to insure all are interconnected.

●      What measures would you like made available to local jurisdictions for improving road safety that require legislative action in Richmond?  For example, no hand-held devices of texting while driving.

Virginia law currently prohibits texting while driving. 

 

David Meyer

●      How would you ensure that the city’s trail system is extended to connect with new developments, making it easier for residents to walk and bicycle to these new developments?

Require trails in approval conditions to be constructed as part of a site plan.  Existing trails in close proximity to new or redevelopment commercial or residential projects should be targeted for upgrades using proffers. An example of a successful project is the Daniels Run trail from St. Andrews Drive to the Marketplace Center (Noodles, Main Street Deli).  My family uses this frequently to walk to these shops, the City Museum, the library, and other downtown destinations.

How can we improve public transportation service within Fairfax City and to surrounding destinations, such as the Vienna Metro Station and George Mason University?

I support annual funding allocations for the purchase of new CUE buses in 2015.  I oppose any increases in the current fares for CUE bus use, and would support funding to reduce fares for senior citizens and students.

●      What traffic calming devices would you recommend to make residential areas and commercial areas such as Fairfax Boulevard safer and more pleasant for walking and bicycling?

For Old Lee Hwy, I support funding, eliminated in 2009, to remove wide shoulder areas and transform this right-of-way for bicyclists and pedestrians and designating this road as “No Through Trucks.”  (There has been a significant increase of 18-wheel diesel tractor-trailer traffic on Old Lee Hwy.)  For Fairfax Blvd., , the pedestrian walkways at Fairfax Circle installed in 2010, have improved pedestrian safety.  I support similar improvements at Plantation Parkway, Draper Drive, Chain Bridge Road, and Main Street/Kamp Washington.

●      What measures would you like made available to local jurisdictions for improving road safety that require legislative action in Richmond?  For example, no hand-held devices of texting while driving.

I would like the GA to rescind the recently enacted legislation that greatly restricts the ability of local governments to install cameras at intersections within the City.

 

Catherine Read

●      How would you ensure that the city’s trail system is extended to connect with new developments, making it easier for residents to walk and bicycle to these new developments?  I don’t know that I can “ensure” that.  I can tell you it would be a priority for me because I believe passionately in the value of doing it.

●      How can we improve public transportation service within Fairfax City and to surrounding destinations, such as the Vienna Metro Station and George Mason University? I’m not sure on the ridership of the CUE bus, but working with our existing transportation to increase buses or expand routes would be a first step.  Also putting bike racks on busses for people who want to bike to busstops and take their bikes on the Metro or ride them on campus.

●      What traffic calming devices would you recommend to make residential areas and commercial areas such as Fairfax Boulevard safer and more pleasant for walking and bicycling? This is not my area of expertise, but I am very interested in pursuing this as an important initiative.  I would want to know what is working successfully in other areas.  Allocating resources to implement best practices in this would be a priority for me.  I lived off Fairfax Blvd for 8  years and walked a lot in that area.  I think it’s important to make it more bike and pedestrian friendly.

●      What measures would you like made available to local jurisdictions for improving road safety that require legislative action in Richmond?  For example, no hand-held devices of texting while driving.  I keep up with what goes on in the General Assembly and I would support a regulation of that type.  What I think is going to make the greatest difference, however, is improved technology. Cars are already coming out with voice command for everything from making phone calls to changing the radio station and getting directions to the next destination.  Some things will be resolved by advances in other arenas that reduce the need for regulation and legislation.

  

Mayoral Candidate:

Scott Silverthorne

  • How would you ensure that the city’s trail system is extended to connect with new developments, making it easier for residents to walk and bicycle to these new developments? 

Nearly every new development in the City does connect to our existing trail network, something I have strongly supported as member of the city council and will continue to support as mayor. 

  • How can we improve public transportation service within Fairfax City and to surrounding destinations, such as the Vienna Metro Station and George Mason University?

We have a bus system that is the envy of the region with CUE, a service that ties the City directly with the metro and with GMU.    We must continue to seek ways to move people out their vehicles, support mass transit, and telecommuting whenever possible.

  • What traffic calming devices would you recommend to make residential areas and commercial areas such as Fairfax Boulevard safer and more pleasant for walking and bicycling?  

As mayor, I will continue to support the expansion of our trails for walking and bicycling.   Clearly, any future redevelopment of Fairfax Boulevard must take ‘walkability’ and pedestrian safety into consideration.

  • What measures would you like made available to local jurisdictions for improving road safety that require legislative action in Richmond?  For example, no hand-held devices of texting while driving.

As a city, we have much more control over our roadways than neighboring counties.   At one time we had a transportation safety commission, which was charged with looking at safety matters and making recommendations to the city council.  I would support much more citizen input into the process.   As far as legislative action from Richmond, I would support including additional road safety measures in our future legislative packages, to include hands-free devices.   (texting while driving is already illegal in Virginia)

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Athena April 25, 2012 at 05:18 PM
I live in Cobbdale, and I would love to safely bike to Fair Oaks Mall and to Fair Lakes, but there are insufficient safe ways to cross any of the main roads ...

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